Sunday, March 8, 2015

Chappie (USA, 2015)

Nine Things About the Movie Chappie

1. This is the third film from South-African/Canadian director Neill Blomkamp. It's also his least cohesive.

2. Blomkamp's first film, District 9, used a science fiction story to discuss issues like apartheid and racism. His second film, Elysium, used a science fiction story to discuss issues like classism, immigration, and health care. Chappie uses a science fiction story to discuss... too many things.

3. The science fiction story is great. Sort of a philosophical successor to Robocop, it follows two employees of a weapons manufacturer. One employee wants to make robot police that can decide things for themselves. The other employee wants to make robot police that can only be controlled by humans. When a computer code is made to create actual artificial intelligence, it is tested in a robot that gets plunged into a very chaotic environment.

4. The movie introduces ideas such as God, consciousness, the soul, ethics, morality, and education. Unfortunately, those issues are too varied and too deep to explore in a two-hour movie, especially when you need to put in a lot of action scenes.

5. What could have been one of the most compelling themes, the development of morality, is turned into comic relief, as Chappie is taught how to be a thug. And another really interesting idea, about the transfer of consciousness, is only introduced at the very end of the movie.

6.  Visually, the movie is edgy and cool. The visual effects are impressive. Some of the action scenes are borderline epic.

7. The movie was partially financed by Sony, so of course the laptops in the movie are Vaios. And while I know the Playstation is a powerful gaming system, I have serious doubts that stringing a few of them together would be able to upload consciousness onto the internet.

8. Any movie about artificial intelligence requires a certain suspension of disbelief; you just accept the premise of the movie and go with it. But this movie requires too much of that. By the climax of the film, you have to throw science and reality out the window.

9. If you are looking for an action movie starring a cute wannabe gangster robot, this is a good time. Just ignore all the things that try to make you think. They will lead you nowhere.